The Soliga tribe of Karnataka and its intimate relationship with nature

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The Soliga community of Karnataka and their intimate relationship with nature

Contributed by: Gaurav Moghe

The Soligas are nomadic people who have lived in the Biligiriranga Hills region of Southern Karnataka for centuries. Soligas - whose name means Children of the Bamboo - live off forest produce like honey, berries and timber. They do cultivate a little bit of pigeon peas, beans, pumpkins and millet but mostly for their own consumption[1]. Many Soligas, even today, live in small shelters called pudus deep inside the dense forests of Southern Western Ghats. The community is so dependent on biodiversity that they revere Mother Nature - not just the forests, the animals and the trees, but even the land they walk upon[2].

The knowledge that Soligas possess about the forests of the Western Ghats can be used for biodiversity conservation. For example, a study performed in 2008 looked at the Soliga claim that forest fires are in-fact beneficial for biodiversity[3]. Generally, forest fires would be extinguished by the forest department using modern fire-suppression regimes. However, the Soligas claimed that natural fires are inherent part of the forest biome and extinguishing such fires leads to increased parasitic load. The above study looked at infections of Loranthus - a plant parasite - on Phyllanthus emblica (Aamla) trees and found that fire indeed reduced the parasitic load on these trees and increased their survival[3]. This example points to the importance of considering local, folk knowledge in any biodiversity conservation regime.

The Soliga culture, in recent times, has been severely affected by habitat degradation of the Western Ghats, change in economic practices in neighboring areas and ironically, because of the government declaring their home as a wildlife sanctuary. Collection of non-timber forest produce has been banned by the Wildlife Protection Act since 2006[1]. Rains are irregular and delayed, leading to a drop in the small agricultural productivity of the Soligas. Almost 2,00,000 of India's villages are located near forests and depend on forest produce for their day-to-day sustenance. The plight of the Soligas reflects the plight of these communities all over India[1]. Organizations like ATREE, the Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK), the Soliga Abhivrudhi Sangha and the Karnataka Forest Department have played a significant role in livelihood enhancement of the Soligas and in rendering their help in biodiversity conservation in the Western Ghats.

BR Hills in Southern Karnataka


  1. ^ a b c Climate change threatens livelihood of the Soliga tribe Published: May 22, 2007. Accessdate: Sep 24, 2011
  2. ^ – Our most knowledgeable teachers Accessed: Sep 28, 2011
  3. ^ a b "COLLABORATIVE CONSERVATION: SOLIGA CULTURAL ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN BILIGIRI RANGASWAMY TEMPLE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, INDIA". Annual meeting of the International Congress for Conservation Biology, Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN. July 10, 2008. 


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Semantic tags

Title The Soligas of Karnataka and their intimate relationship with nature Article is on this general topic Indigenous practices Author Gaurav Moghe
Specific location(s) where study was conducted Not noted General region where study was conducted Not noted State where study was conducted Karnataka
Institutional affiliation Not noted Institution located at Not noted Institution based around Not noted
Species Group Not noted User ID User:Gauravm Page creation date 2011/11/06

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